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Book Spine Poetry: Nina Katchadourian Makes Art With Book Titles

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Nina Katchadourian
Nina Katchadourian

If you've ever spent too long staring at your bookshelves, you might have seen the titles of some of the books begin to relate to one another. A little careful rearranging, and perhaps you could even make a short phrase jump out.

This is Book Spine Poetry.

Online curator and storyteller Maria Popova created some earlier this year; libraries have held contests around them; every year, this website hosts a gallery of efforts; there are plenty of Pinterest images under the 'book spine poetry' tag, and we've even had a try at it.

However, the most skilled person in the genre is probably professional artist Nina Katchadourian. She's also perhaps one of the longest ongoing book spine/title poets - her project, Sorted Books, arranging books by their titles to create new phrases, began in 1993.

Next spring, Chronicle Books will publish a look back at 20 years of the project. Meantime, Katchadourian currently has an exhibit in Delaware in which she uses a local collection of old books to create new Sorted Books phrases.

Here below are images from her Delaware exhibition. Take a look, and then why not try make some of your own?

Email us at or tweet us with the results!

Sorted Books by Nina Katchadourian
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